Final Warmup - Sawtooths

Unnamed pinnacle above Iron Creek trail

After returning from our trip to the Sierras we still had a week before we left for Europe. My original thought was to head right back to the Sierras. There was still a lot of territory to explore. Hiking conditions were good. But I had to spend a day doing chores first. Laney needed to go to the vet. She needed to go to the doggie spa. There was laundry from our last trip and other stuff to do around the house. But I took care of pretty much everything in a day. I had the car all packed up. The plan was to get up early the next morning, take my car for an oil change, and then head back to the mountains.

But the next day I had to admit it - I just didn't feel like doing that ten hour plus drive again. While I was retired I never minded driving. I had lots of time. But now when my days off are precious again, sitting in the car for an entire day, twice, just was not appealing. So I decided to stay in town. I always figured I could do hiking trips in Idaho. Checking the weather there was one day that the forecast was perfect - Thursday. So I resolved to go to the Sawtooths.

I left about 7 am. An early start but not fanatical. I decided to do Sawtooth Lake. It is an old favorite, the trail I have done more than any other. I have probably done the hike fifteen times since moving to Idaho. If I do one hike in the Sawtooths during a year, it is Sawtooth Lake. When I broke my ankle in 1989 in a softball accident, it was the first hike I did after I healed up. When I came back for a visit from Singapore, it was the one hike that I did. So if I was going to do hike in the Sawtooths this season, I was going to start with Sawtooth Lake.

Tarn below Sawtooth Lake - more snow than the Sierras

The hike was pretty uneventful. I know the trail very well but still enjoy it. Unlike the Sierras there was still some snow in the Sawtooths starting at about 8500 feet just before reaching the lake. There were at least four major snow patches that I had to cross. It actually made it easier to get across the outlet stream - it was totally snow covered. I found my usual spot by the lake and settled down to have a snack and enjoy the view. A typical perfect Sawtooth summer day. It was supposed to be about a hundred and five in Boise. Even Stanley, at a much higher altitude, was forecast to have a high in the upper eighties. It was very warm even at the lake. But there was still some ice floating in the water - it would have been a very refreshing dip! There were a few bugs that were a minor annoyance but not as many as I expected for July. Rather than mosquitos, normally the problem in the Sawtooths in high summer, the flies were more of a nuisance. I suspect it was the heat. Usually flies are more of a problem in other Idaho ranges like the Boulder mountains.

Hikers perched on a rock enjoy the view of Mt. Regan

The hike back went quickly. There were a lot of wildflowers this time of year so I tried taking closeup pictures of them. After so many hikes to Sawtooth Lake I have a lot of pictures of the lake and Mt. Regan. I was trying for something different. It was a warm hike back but I made it back to the trailhead. I threw my pack on top of the car, got in, started it, and turned on the air conditioner while I change shoes and socks and got settled it. Then it was time for the drive home.

I had been driving for about half an hour when a horrible thought occurred to me. I had taken my pack off the top of the car, right? I felt in the back seat. Nothing. Glanced around. Nothing. Oh no. A horrible noob mistake. I drove off with my pack sitting on top of my car. At least I wasn't as bad as the lady who put her baby on top of her car and drove off, but still pretty dumb. I stopped and checked the top of the car. No pack. Oh well. Nothing for it but to go back and get it.

Alpine Peak from the Iron Creek trail

I watched the highway and both sides of the road carefully as I drove back to the trailhead. No sign of my pack. I wasn't worried. I figured the most likely thing scenario was that it had fallen off right away at the trailhead when I pulled out of on the dirt road in the first couple of hundred yards. But when I got back to the trailhead there was no sign of it. I walked around the area several times. No luck. I drove around the campground loop near the trailhead. No luck. I saw a wilderness ranger leaving the trailhead in a forest service pickup. She had been at the trailhead when I started. I saw her at Sawtooth Lake when I had started back. Maybe someone had found my pack and given it to her. I talked to her but no luck. Then I went to the campground and found an elderly couple that watched the campground. I talked to them but again no luck. So I decided my pack was lost. I headed home with an hour wasted backtracking and looking for my pack.

In the mountains a flower - in my yard a weed

But Sandy got a call at home about my pack. Someone had found it in the middle of the highway and picked it up. They had turned it in at the Stanley Chamber of Commerce (who runs an information desk in town). There was nothing in the pack to indicate who it belonged to but I did have the wilderness permit that is required attached to the pack. That had my name and zip code. So some nice person there looked me up and called. Now the problem was getting the pack. I told them I would drive up and get it in the next few days.

The weather was unsettled with thunderstorms forecast every day. I couldn't really drive up and do a hike and then get my pack. So I just drove up on Saturday, picked up my pack, had lunch, and drove home. My decision not to go to the Sierras to avoid lots of driving didn't turn out too well. But at least I had my pack back.

There was important stuff in it that I needed for our trip to the Alps. My GoreTex jacket was there. Our DSLR camera, a Nikon D3000, was also in the pack. But when I got home and checked things out, the camera was wrecked. The lens had broken off and was in three pieces. I thought being in a padded case in a pack with lots of other stuff would protect it, but no. So I started a quick web search to research cameras. I quickly zoomed in (no pun intended) on a Canon EOS Rebel T3. A quick trip to Best Buy and we had a new camera. So I have been frantically reading the manual and trying to learn all of the nuances of the new camera. I just wish I had a few more days so I could get in at least one hike to practice taking pictures. But we are down to the wire. Tomorrow is our last day to pack and then we are off for our big trip to the Alps. I'll have to learn the new camera on the trip. Hopefully we will still end up with good pictures.